Corporate America is sucking the life from my very soul
November 15, 2012 10:38 AM   Subscribe

How do I transition from corporate America to working for a small business?

I'm done. I'm done with the corporate nonsense. After ten years at a fairly sizable regional financial institution as an IS project manager, I've decided the corporate thing is just not for me any longer. It's not what you know, it's who you know and how well you bullshit. I'm just so done.

Long term (2- to 3-yr) goal: To get a graduate certification in personal coaching and start my own business as a Life Enrichment Coach. THIS is my true passion and calling. (No, I don't want to be a therapist or psychologist, thanks.) However, in the meantime, while I do (& pay for) the certification I still need to make a stable income. So...

Short term (Now) goal: To get the hell out of this place. I want to work for an established small business or other relatively small privately owned company. I am a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none in IS. I don't care about money; I care about happiness. If I could match my (low for the field) salary I'd be just fine with that.

My question - where do small businesses find new employees? Where should I be looking for opportunities? I'm pretty fearless; should I just send my resume to any small business I like? Knock on doors? How do I quit the corporate game, once and for all?

(And yes, I know small businesses have their own set of politics and issues - I am aware it's not going to be all rainbows and kittens, I just need a change of environment, and I don't want to work for a publically held company any longer.)

Thanks for any insight...
posted by Falwless to Work & Money (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Small businesses find their employees the same places large businesses do. A small business is probably more likely to rely on personal referrals though. They don't have to jump through the corporate HR hoops that a larger firm would. I would start with your local chamber of commerce. Start attending the happy hours and mixers and get yourself known, ask the sorts of questions that will uncover a need for your services.

Also, watch Craigslist and your local newspaper want ads.
posted by COD at 10:47 AM on November 15, 2012

I did this. Mine was a financial services corp too. I went from a company of 5k to a company of 30. I took a big pay cut, but I'm so much happier where I am now.

Then again, I am not trying to do it as a temporary gig while I follow my dream. Thriving within a small business takes more energy than subsisting in a big soulless corp, because you can't be anonymous. Ever. Plus, small businesses are usually more invested in your longevity than are big soulless corporations, because it costs them more to hire and onboard people, and suddenly open positions can adversely affect revenues.

Having said that, check for meetups in your area. Become known to others as someone competent and friendly who's looking for a job. You'll find out pretty quickly what small businesses are hiring for IS jobs.

Also, decide what kind of position you're searching for (and tailor resumes appropriately), because trust me: no one worth working for wants to hire a stranger who describes their qualifications as "Oh, I kind of do everything."
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 11:01 AM on November 15, 2012

Unfortunately, the "not what you know but who you know" is even more apropos of the job market. Your scenario is what LinkedIn excels at - if you want to find a job that's a good fit for you, you're going to need to network (of course, remember that you are potentially broadcasting this information to your networked co-workers). You need to taylor your resume and cover letter to accent whatever skillset you have that would be helpful at your new job. As for where to find a business to work at, I work in a mid-sized metro area and there are several sites/publications that are dedicated to bringing news (and press releases) from small businesses, and these types of sites often have lists of "growing businesses" (which is basically anyone who asks to be included).

As someone who works at a small business, I'll also advise you that the job listings that we have on our website rarely change, but when we're aggressively looking, we use a job-listings service (like Monster) to attract more resumes.
posted by antonymous at 11:31 AM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thanks so much for all of the advice! I actually love networking and I'm a huge extrovert. I called the Chamber of Commerce and received some information regarding Small Business networking events. I will also go ahead and establish my LinkedIn presence and start building my circle. I'm also going to look into meetup!

What wonderful suggestions. This is awesome - thanks everyone!
posted by Falwless at 12:31 PM on November 15, 2012

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